Those who propose combating illegal immigration by deporting or otherwise punishing illegal immigrants like to point out that they aren’t anti-immigrant – they just wish people would come here legally.
Now, I’m a terrible Montana blogger, because I either write about things that are internationally broad or rather personal. My recent interest in this issue is from the latter. I’ve been waiting now for four months and twelve days for my fiancee to receive a visa to come to the United States. Within a week, my over four hundred dollar check to the relevant authorities had been cashed, but that was the last action I’ve heard anything about on the subject. Finding permanent work, continuing education, even planning the wedding have all been put on hold while we wait for the government to process the papers.
All of this is hard on Margarida and me, but definitely worth it. But imagine a typical immigrant from Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America – facing months of waiting and residency limbo, thousands in fees, and high-pressure interviews. Is it any wonder our system encourages millions of people to take their chances with an undocumented residence as opposed to trying to navigate confusing, expensive, and frustrating bureaucracy which holds no guarantee or even good odds of residency for most immigrants?
Illegal immigrants and potential legal immigrants waiting to enter the US have two things in common – they aren’t paying much in taxes right now, and they could be paying more taxes and being more productive if our immigration restrictions were eased and personnel was more focused on screening people to enter the country legally rather than catching those who entered illegally. Illegal immigrants do not cost the government nearly as much as many people believe, but they certainly don’t contribute as much as they could if they we would let them. NAFTA has made it much easier to move goods and capital throughout our continent – when will we decide its time people have the same rights as products?